After two episodes, it doesn’t look good for season 2 of Scream Queens.
The surviving characters of season 1 have left Wallace University and moved onto the Caregivers United in Restorative Etiology Institute Hospital, also known as C.U.R.E., where they cure incurable diseases and work their way through medical school. The Red Devil killer is no longer haunting them, but The Green Meanie, a new serial killer (who had his or her start in the 1985, ten years before the Red Devil Killer) seems to be after the patients in the hospital.
One of the greatest things about the first season of Scream Queens was the tight construction. However, this is so far lost on season 2. Season 1 managed to balance its character extremely well. The ridiculousness of the Chanels was off-set by Grace and Zayday, who were both much lower-key characters. They played off of each other well. Grace was normal and relatable where the Chanels were larger than life. Every character had another that kept them grounded. Also, the characters allowed you to get to know them and get comfortable in the world before they went from quirky to insane. Even the most ridiculous characters like Chad started off fairly restrained.
However, season 2 doesn’t have any of the balance that made season 1 work. We left season 1 at the peak of everyone’s personalities. It was funny because we knew they were real characters and part of the amping up of personalities was due to the stress from the increasing number of murders. Characters were confined in small spaces of their world, and the only way to play off of it and make it funny and scary was to make it big.
Now, we are left in season 2 with a fraction of the characters (the rest are dead or otherwise not returning to the show) and the balance is entirely thrown off. Zayday, the most normal character, is left to off-set all of the Chanels, Dean Munsch, and a plethora of new characters, all of whom are as unrestrained as the returning characters. It just doesn’t work.
Moreover, this show can’t get its footing in the genre. Season 1 was a love letter to slasher flicks. Season 2 seems to be going for monster movies. However, they are trying to put monsters in a slasher flick, and it just doesn’t work. Instead of taking cues from movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon, they’re still trying to do Psycho. The show tries to compensate by having the patients in the hospital be the metaphorical monsters, but there’s no reason to get attached to them because the audience knows they will be killed by the end of the episode.
What made season 1 exciting was that it wasn’t clear who was going to live. The class of pledges was large and all introduced at once. The audience could probably infer that the bigger named celebrities (i.e. Lea Michele and Emma Roberts) would live at least to the end of the season (although, in a move clearly inspired by Scream, they killed Ariana Grande off in one of the first episodes) as well as Grace, who was clearly the main character. However, season two so far has given patients where we once had pledges–introduced slowly and clearly doomed to die.
The new recurring characters have so far been disappointing. While the Scream Queens cast remains strong even with the new additions, the characters themselves have become superficial tropes at best. Kristie Alley’s Dr. Ingrid Hoffel, rather than being mysterious, is simply boring and forgettable. Her unclear motivation and obvious hatred for the Chanels is clearly meant to drive the plot, but why wouldn’t she hate the Chanels? Zayday is a bright student who is clearly working towards being a doctor for much more pure motivations than the Chanels. Zayday is a med student while the Chanels are mostly just there. Having Zayday compare the two makes her seem unnecessarily oblivious to the differences between her and the Chanels.
However, Dr. Hoffel isn’t the only confusing and unnecessary new character. Taylor Lautner’s Dr. Cassidy Cascade so far isn’t necessary to the plot, a foil to another character, or is interesting in any way. Lautner is a talented actor, but mostly he’s attractive and can bring another big name to the show. His character seems like an afterthought addition to John Stamos’s Dr. Brock Holt. Clearly, there is a mystery or clue with him (his transplanted hand), but, so far, it’s hard to care about this character or this plot.
I think that Scream Queens could have worked if they would have done the new season with a new set of characters, a la American Horror Story. Ryan Murphy excels at making seasons of shows, but once he has to deal with a long-running project, it starts to fall apart. This is especially the case when a show loses actors from season to season. For instance, once Glee, another Murphy show, could no longer hold onto most of its principle cast, they added unnecessary and uninteresting characters. However, where Glee managed to have three good seasons, it seems like Scream Queens may only have one. Murphy is a sprinter when it comes to running shows. A monster-based hospital horror story could have worked with this cast, but not with these characters.
When Scream Queens fans ask if season 2 will be as good as season 1, unfortunately, at only two episodes in, it’s pretty safe to say that the answer is “no.”